This week I am talking to Dr Christopher Kerr about Death Bed Visions and his book ‘Death is But a Dream: Hope and Meaning at Life’s End’.
Christopher Kerr is a hospice doctor. All of his patients die. Yet he has cared for thousands of patients who, in the face of death, speak of love and grace. Beyond the physical realities of dying are unseen processes that are remarkably life-affirming. These include dreams that are unlike any regular dream. Described as “more real than real,” these end-of-life experiences resurrect past relationships, meaningful events and themes of love and forgiveness; they restore life’s meaning and mark the transition from distress to comfort and acceptance.
Drawing on interviews with over 1,400 patients and more than a decade of quantified data, Dr. Kerr reveals that pre-death dreams and visions are extraordinary occurrences that humanize the dying process. He shares how his patients’ stories point to death as not solely about the end of life, but as the final chapter of humanity’s transcendence. Kerr’s book also illuminates the benefits of these phenomena for the bereaved, who find solace in seeing their loved ones pass with a sense of calm closure.
Beautifully written, with astonishing real-life characters and stories, this book is at its heart a celebration of our power to reclaim the dying process as a deeply meaningful one. Death Is But a Dream is an important contribution to our understanding of medicine’s and humanity’s greatest mystery.
Christopher Kerr, MD, PhD, is the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Executive Officer for Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Chris earned his MD as well as a PhD in Neurobiology. Dr. Kerr received numerous awards throughout training that recognized his clinical performance, as well as his success as an educator and scientist.
Chris’s background in research has evolved from bench science toward the human experience of illness as witnessed from the bedside, specifically patients’ dreams and visions at the end of life. Although medically ignored, these near-universal experiences often provide comfort and meaning, as well as insight into the life led and the death anticipated. To date, the research team at Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo has published multiple studies on this topic and documented over 1,500 end-of-life events, many of which are videotaped.
This work was the subject of Chris’s TEDx Buffalo Talk, which has been viewed approximately 3 million times and has been the subject of reports on BBC and in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American Mind, Huffington Post and Psychology Today. It will also be featured in an upcoming Netflix production and a public television documentary film to be released nationally in early 2021. Dr. Kerr’s work
was also published by Penguin Random House earlier this year in a book called Death Is But a Dream, which is now being released in multiple languages.